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Telecommunications Service Quality

 

Background

In July 2009, the CPUC issued a Decision adopting General Order (GO) 133-C, which specifies telephone service quality standards for network technical quality, customer service, installation, repairs, and billing. These service quality standards are intended to protect the safety, health, comfort, and convenience of consumers.  

In response to widespread service outages, the CPUC issued its Telephone Carrier Service Quality Reportin March 2011. This report examined data provided by telephone companies and documented widespread sub-standard service quality. For example, the Report provided details regarding outages in AT&T’s and Verizon’s networks that impacted 250,000 customers in Southern California during the winter storms of December 2010 and January 2011.    

 

CPUC Rulemaking

In December 2011, the CPUC initiated a Rulemaking to:   

  • Review telephone companies’ performance in meeting service quality standards.  
      
  • Assess whether existing GO 133-C service quality standards and measures are adequate and relevant to the current market and regulatory environment.  
      
  • Assess whether there is a need to establish a penalty mechanism for sub-standard service performance.   

In May 2012, the CPUC issued a Ruling requiring telephone carriers to provide data on issues such as:  

  • Winter outages of 2010-2011  
  • Internal standards for service quality   
  • How networks are monitored  
  • Industry best practices  

 

CPUC Orders a Network Infrastructure Study

In February 2013, the CPUC issued a Decision directing CPUC staff to hire a consultant to evaluate the state of carrier network infrastructure, and ordered AT&T and Verizon to split proportionally the costs of the study based on their respective share of total intrastate revenues. The cost of the study was capped at $1.5 million.  

On August 27, 2015, the CPUC issued a further Decision, ordering staff to initiate the infrastructure study and providing deadlines to ensure timely completion.   
 

  

2014 CPUC Staff Report

In September 2014, the CPUC issued a Ruling asking parties to comment on its Staff Report, California Wireline Telephone Service Quality Pursuant to General Order 133-C, Calendar Years 2010 Through 2013,” which includes:    

  • Data on the performance of wireline carriers under the CPUC’s current measurement and reporting standards.   
      
  • Findings that AT&T and Verizon failed to meet standards for Out of Service Repair Intervals and Verizon failed to meet standards for Answer Time.    
      
  • Recommendations to adopt:     
    • A penalty / incentive methodology  
    • Modifications to the methodology of Out of Service Repair Intervals  
    • Service quality rules on interconnected VoIP and wireless carriers  

  

 February 2015 CPUC Staff Proposal

On February 2, 2015, the CPUC issued a Ruling with its Staff's Proposal, and seeking stakeholder input on proposed modifications to General Order 133-C that would require:   

  • A penalty / incentive mechanism for chronic failure to meet service quality standards.
     
  • Reporting outages to the CPUC concurrent with FCC Network Outage Reporting Systems (NORS)
     
  • Network outage reports for Interconnected VoIP    

 

CPUC Proposed Modifications to Reporting Outages and Disruptions for Communications Services

On December 29, 2015, the CPUC issued a Ruling proposing updates to its General Order 133-C regarding telephone service quality standards. The CPUC Ruling proposes to adopt the FCC's rules for reporting communications disruptions and outages for all communications entities under CPUC jurisdiction (aka Network Outage Reports System - NORS).          

 

CPUC Proposed Decision

On March 22, 2016, the CPUC issued a Proposed Decision that would adopt:  

  • A mechanism to apply fines for chronic failure to meet service quality standards.
      
     
  • Reporting outages to the CPUC concurrent with FCC Network Outage Reporting Systems (NORS).
     

 

CPUC Proposed Alternate Decision

On June 22, 2016, Commissioner Sandoval issued an Alternate Proposed Decision, which contains additional provisions to the Proposed Decision, including:  

  • A requirement to report service outages in rural areas with reporting thresholds tailored to these sparsely populated areas. 
      
     
  • A requirement that certain interconnected VoIP providers report on their performance in meeting GO 133-C standards. 
      
     
  • A subsequent phase of the proceeding to consider additional service quality standards appropriate for VoIP and wireless voice service.     

   

CPUC Final Decision

On August 18, 2016, the CPUC adopted the Proposed Decision.


   

   

 

ORA's Position

Modification to CPUC Rules for Service Quality Standards

ORA supports the proposal in the CPUC's December 29, 2015 Ruling to require interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and wireless providers to provide a copy of their Network Outage Reporting System (NORS) reports, which they file with the FCC. NORS reports provide relevant public safety information that the CPUC should monitor to ensure the reliability and quality of services provided by all telephone corporations.  

As the number of VoIP California subscribers continue to increase due to the adoption of newer technologies, it is necessary to monitor all service outages to ensure that California consumers can rely on their telephone service.  

See ORA's February 12, 2016 Comments on updates to CPUC General Order 133-C.   

 
 
 

ORA Proposal for Modification of CPUC General Order 133-C

 ORA supports key elements of the February 2015 Staff Proposal, including:    

  • Imposing penalties for chronic failures to meet the minimum standards.    
      
  • Reporting outages concurrent with FCC Network Outage Reporting.  
     
  • Extending the application of the minimum service quality and reliability standards to wireless and all interconnected VoIP service providers.    

  

 In order to ensure service quality and public safety, ORA makes further recommendations, including:    

  • Lowering the threshold for reporting major outages to 90,000 user minutes from 900,000 user minutes in rural areas, in order to ensure monitoring of all significant outages in sparsely populated areas.   
      
  • Extending the application of the minimum service quality and reliability standards to wireless and all interconnected VoIP service providers.    
     
  • Requiring outage reporting to include not just customer-initiated trouble reports but also outages discoverable by telephone corporations.   
     

See ORA’s: 

March 30, 2015 Opening Comments on the February 2, 2015 CPUC Staff Proposal.   

April 17, 2015 Reply Comments. 
 

   

October 24, 2014 Opening Comments on the CPUC’s September 2014 Staff Report.    

November 13, 2014 Reply Comments on the CPUC’s September 2014 Staff Report.    

 

     

Proceeding Status

See the Proceeding docket.    

Visit the docket to see a full record of the case, as well as to subscribe to proceeding updates. 

   

 

Other Resources

Telecommunications Carriers’ Service Quality Reports